Hamas to participate in Palestinian local elections in October

Hamas announces participation in local elections; PA Elections Committee to travel to Gaza Strip to meet with political officials; Palestinian Islamic Jihad supports municipal elections with no precondition/conditions from any party

Hamas and Fatah officials in Gaza (AFP)

Hamas announced it would participate in scheduled local elections in the Palestinian Territories in October, elections to be held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Central Elections Committee accepted Hamas’s participation and scheduled a delegation to travel to the Gaza Strip on Sunday to meet with political officials.

The terrorist organization made the announcement over the weekend, its first participation in local elections in nearly a decade. Hamas reported that it hopes participating in the upcoming elections would “lay the foundation for the general election in the future.” Hamas boycotted the last elections held in 2012.

Hamas released the following statement “We hope that this election will help national reconciliation if we succeeded to have transparent election as this could lay the foundation for the general election in the future. Once we have this election, this might lead to a general election and national reconciliation. If we succeed and everybody accepts the result, I think this is going to give us a signal to the future election. The movement sees the necessity and importance of holding local elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and renewing local councils in support of a popular and free administration through the ballot box.”

Hamas claimed that it “will work to facilitate and make the elections successful in a way that serves the interest of our people and issue on the basis of providing assurances of fairness, equal opportunity, and respect for its result.”

Following Hamas’s announcement, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced that it too would support municipal elections “as long as there is national consensus to hold municipal elections… it is most important that these elections take place without conditions from any party or any party forcing its conditions on another party.”

The development comes just a few weeks following a meeting between Hamas and Fatah officials in Qatar, their meeting centered on implementing the 2014 reconciliation deal. In June of 2014, Hamas and Fatah announced the formation of a unity government, officially ending negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel at the time, as Israel does not negotiate with terrorists. A few months later, Hamas and Fatah signed the Cairo Agreement that designated that Hamas would remain in power in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) would govern the West Bank and border crossings for all Palestinian territories.